Monthly Archives: December 2021

The virtuous circle of what’s needed to trigger Europe’s digital sovereignty

By Stefano da Empoli – Like a prism that changes according to the perspective through which it is observed, there are many possible interpretations of the concept of digital sovereignty. In the past few days, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has provided some inspiration for the right way to look at it. During a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, and held after the signing of the Quirinale Treaty, Draghi referred to European sovereignty as the “ability to direct the future as we wish.”

In the digital domain, the power to be the author of one’s own destiny can be won with two tools: sound rules and technological investment. Only a balanced combination of them, however, can produce digital sovereignty to the benefit of European citizens. Much has been said in recent years about the so-called ‘Brussels effect’, the title of a successful book by Anu Bradford, the Finnish-born legal scholar based at Columbia University in New York.

Through the definition of a robust and ambitious regulatory framework, the European Union has managed to establish itself as the main global rule-maker, influencing the legislation of other countries and inducing non-European companies to take it into account not only for products and services sold in the old continent but also elsewhere.

A meaningful case study is the GDPR, the European privacy regulation, which was approved in 2016 and came into force in 2018. One of the basic principles, that of privacy by design, i.e. already built into a product or service at the time of its conception, has become the mantra of many American companies in just a few years. While it is true that the US does not yet have a federal privacy law, California, which is home to most of the large American technology companies, passed a very similar one. more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

Why Networking Matters More Than Ever
By Rose Jacobs – Chicago Booth’s Ronald S. Burt was in London one morning in 2016 reading the Times when he was struck by an image in the newspaper. It was a map that showed where the recent Brexit vote, for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, had been strongest. People in poorer regions had tended to vote “Leave,” while those in richer London, Manchester, and Edinburgh wanted to stay.

The image reminded him of another map, from a paper he often used in teaching, in which technology entrepreneur Nathan Eagle, Cornell’s Michael Macy, and British Telecom’s Rob Claxton had visualized the UK’s telephone networks, showing that people who called a greater range of phone numbers over the course of a month in 2005 tended to live in more prosperous regions. The volume of phone calls made no difference—it was the diversity of people being called that tracked economic indicators, and that those people were not in contact themselves: in other words, that Andrew had Betty and Calvin in his call list, but Betty and Calvin never phoned each other.

As a sociologist, Burt has demonstrated over decades that diverse networks of contacts help individuals thrive on a range of fronts—from salary levels and promotions to the chances of leading a successful start-up to the ability to think strategically. Your LinkedIn account is your fate. more>

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Updates from Ciena

How to Right-Size Your Middle-Mile Network for Rural Broadband Growth
By Mitch Simcoe – Have you ever purchased something where you didn’t plan and anticipate your future needs correctly and you ended up needing to replace it with something larger, something that can scale with greater capacity to meet your needs? Something that leaves you with a nagging feeling, that if you had just planned better from the start it would have saved you a lot of time, money and aggravation?

For example, my son recently graduated from college and the first car he went and bought was a 2-seater red convertible with a trunk that can barely hold a suitcase. Now he wants to go mountain biking and kayaking on the weekend and realized he will need to upgrade to a truck and will reluctantly have to sell the sports car.

Well, it is not hard to fall into the same trap when it comes to planning for a Middle-Mile Network for Rural Broadband. Middle-mile networks are typically fiber rings that aggregate the traffic from service provider central offices or utility substations that connect residential customers in rural areas as shown in Figure 1. Whether it’s utility co-ops, regional service providers or municipalities, all need to plan for future broadband demand on these middle-mile networks. As we have seen during the pandemic, people living in rural areas have welcomed the opportunity to work from home; they shop, consume entertainment, and access advanced education services and critical healthcare data online. The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated these trends: elevating high-speed reliable broadband from a “nice to have” service to an essential one, just like water or electricity. more>

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Updates from McKinsey

Unequal America: Ten insights on the state of economic opportunity
By André Dua, Kweilin Ellingrud, Michael Lazar, Ryan Luby, Matthew Petric, Alex Ulyett, and Tucker Van Aken – As parts of the United States begin the long path to recovery from the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we set out to understand what Americans think about their current economic standing, their views on economic opportunity, and the barriers they see standing between themselves and a more inclusive and prosperous future.

So we asked them directly.

Together with the market-research and opinion-polling firm Ipsos, we surveyed 25,000 Americans in the spring of 2021 in an effort to understand their perceptions of the current and future state of the US economy, to discern firsthand their hopes for the future, and to learn about the challenges they face. We also wanted to establish a baseline of data to better understand how outcomes and perceptions are affected by people’s access to resources, as well as by factors such as their identity, education, and level of caregiving responsibility. The breadth and depth of our sample allowed us to draw timely insights across demographic categories and geographic cuts (see sidebar “About the survey”). While the results of our inaugural survey reflect just one moment in time—a period during which the course of the COVID-19 virus and economic conditions were rapidly evolving—they serve as a useful baseline view into the economic experiences of a broad swath of Americans.

What we learned was sobering. Among the findings: Americans report that their financial situations have deteriorated over the past year, and at the time of our survey only half of all respondents reported being able to cover their living expenses for more than two months in the event of job loss. Our survey results also indicated that the pandemic has harmed the economic well-being of many groups, exacerbating inequalities that existed before the crisis. Americans reported facing numerous barriers to economic opportunity and inclusion—among them, inadequate access to health insurance and physical and mental healthcare, as well as to affordable childcare. Moreover, many respondents said that they feel their very identity limits their access to jobs and to fair recognition and reward for their work. more>